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This is a disgusting item in the Washington Post. It sounds good at first – but then it’s meant to. And at second it doesn’t sound good at all.

The administration proposal, which is open for comment from federal agencies through Friday and could take effect in the next few months, would block the adoption of new federal regulations unless the science being used to justify them passes muster with a centralized peer review process that would be overseen by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

It’s those last seven words that give the game away – along with the word ‘centralized’ perhaps. Peer review is one thing, ‘centralized’ peer review is another, and ‘centralized’ peer review overseen by the White House Office of Management and Budgetis quite, quite another. Which peers would those be, exactly? Centralized by whom? And – ‘overseen’ in what sense, using what criteria? One can guess all too easily.

But a number of scientific organizations, citizen advocacy groups and even a cadre of former government regulators see a more sinister motivation: an effort to inject White House politics into the world of science and to use the uncertainty that inevitably surrounds science as an excuse to delay new rules that could cost regulated industries millions of dollars…Under the current system, individual agencies typically invite outside experts to review the accuracy of their science and the scientific information they offer…The proposed change would usurp much of that independence. It lays out specific rules regarding who can sit on peer review panels — rules that, to critics’ dismay, explicitly discourage the participation of academic experts who have received agency grants but offer no equivalent warnings against experts with connections to industry. And it grants the executive branch final say as to whether the peer review process was acceptable.

Perfect. Disinterested academics need not apply, but industry scientists are welcome. And the executive branch, with its dazzling track record of scrupulous impartiality in scientific matters, has the final say.

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